If you’ve been following along with me the last few years then you know I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions. I’ve spoken about it in my 2018 post about “Grace” and my 2017 post about “Yes“. Well, this year I chose a word that has quite a few associations, and for me, it hasn’t always been positive. This year is all about “Invest”.
When you hear the word “invest”, what do you think of? Most of you are going to think of money. Maybe Dave Ramsay or how much money is sitting in your (potentially non-existent) 401k? Well you wouldn’t be wrong, and finances were definitely a big part of this year but it wasn’t the only way I chose to invest. This post will go over how I chose to invest or reinvest in my health, beauty, finances, and happiness!
INVEST IN HEALTH:
I wrote a whole post on my experience with Whole30 and using as a reset button for my body. Overall, my experience made me a better cook with a deeper appreciation for what I put into my body. It helped me actively work on making better choices for my body and my mind.
My wonderful friend Madi Pontikes came out with amazing workout and food guides for every person at any fitness or health level. She focuses on encouraging daily movement and targeted nutrition. She’s a beautiful soul with a fire in her heart for “helping people move forward in their lives by harnessing their capacity to thrive.”
I decided to make a conscious effort to start doing guided meditation at least once a week. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an insanely tense person, but meditation has helped me recognize when I’m actively burdening myself. I have chronic anxiety, I grind my teeth and have issues with TMJ. Using breathing techniques I’m more cognoscente of when I’m tightening muscles unnecessarily. I love the apps Calm and Headspace; they have guided meditations for sleep, breath, mindfulness, focused attention, etc.
INVEST IN BEAUTY:
I had previously written a post about how I was taking my skin back and owning my skincare education moving forward. This last year I decided to get my first ever facial and change up some of the products I use. I’m currently in love with Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil, First Aid Beauty Cleanser, The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid, Drunk Elephant TLC Glycolic Framboos, and the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer.
CURLY HAIR –
If you’ve been following along with my natural hair journey then you’ll know that this is my second year loosely following the curly girl method. In 2018, I got my first ever devacut last year and I was severely overdue for a trim/cut. I had been following the RëzoCurls Instagram account for a while and was so in love with the technique they use. I knew I would be in New York in June for my first BookCon, so I decided to make an appointment at Utopia Salon in New Jersey with the woman who invented the cut, Nubia. This was such an amazing experience and can’t recommend it enough! I don’t see myself traveling there every year for a touch-up but if I could I certainly would.
INVEST IN FINANCES:
STUDENT LOANS –
Well, I finally bit the bullet and the government stopped allowing to keep my loans in forbearance/deferment. I looked at all the options that Great Lake Loans was offering, and sadly they weren’t great. The lowest payment they could offer me was roughly $600 a month. Since it was either pay or have them go into collections, I had to pay. It took some budgeting and adjusting how much I was over-paying on other bills, but I’ve been consistently making payments for most of the year.
This is probably what most of you thought of when you read the word invest. Well, sadly this is not something I started working on this last year. When I moved to Washington in 2014, I had set a goal to improve my credit score. I had residual medical debt, and was repairing some bad credit decisions, from my life and Oklahoma. For the few few years, my goal was just to actively not make my credit worse.
In 2015, I got my car loan on my Kia Soul (with a terrible interest rate) just so I could have something to make consistent payments on. It was slow going but I stuck to it, despite seeing ZERO change in my score for years.
In early 2018, I made the call to flip the switch and shift my priorities to repair instead of maintenance. I paid as many things down as possible, made double payments on my car so that I paid less interest, and paid out a few of my accounts in collections. I stopped checking my score every couple of months; not seeing any movement was giving me more anxiety and adding additional pressure I didn’t need. This year I got the news that my score had jumped almost 300 points!
NO SPEND CHALLENGE –
This past Fall I decided to do a two-week, no-spend challenge. Even though two weeks doesn’t sound like a lot, for me it put some things into perspective. I am terrible about spending money on eating out due to convenience. I have tried everything (notes, phone alarms, reminders etc) but I am terrible at remembering to bring my lunch every day. Starbucks is in my hand most days. Even though I buy groceries, after working all day, I rarely felt the urge to cook. It was time to stop.
I was absolutely SHOCKED that after 2 weeks of coffee/tea at home, cooking meals and bringing them to work, I had saved almost $300! How did I let my spending get so out of control?! I think that in 2020 I will try a month no-spend challenge and continue to implement the things I’ve learned in my everyday spending habits!
INVEST IN HAPPINESS:
WORK/LIFE BALANCE –
This was a really hard thing for me to put into practice, and I’m still learning. Currently, I have my day job at Amazon, my Etsy shop, freelance work as a writer and film critic, on top of keeping things up to date on this blog. I am one of those people that has always felt like I can’t rest if there’s work that needs to be done. For some reason, this generally only ever applies my jobs and not my passions but I’m working on that too.
This year I decided to release some of the pressure that I’d put on myself, taking more time to rest and refocus. It was never a requirement at my job but I ended up pretty consistently working 11 hour days, so I stopped that and allowed myself to sleep in or leave early when I needed to without feeling guilty.
Earlier this year I came across an amazing deal for LASIK that I couldn’t help but jump on! It’s been 5 months and it is still the best investment I have ever made. Read about my entire experience here and if you’ve got a LasikPlus in your area, let them know I referred you for a discount! 🙂
If you follow me on Instagram then you know this year has been insane when it comes to travel! I’ve bounced back and forth to California for work and family matters, popped over to Chicago to celebrate my birthday, San Francisco for a wedding, Denver for our 1-year anniversary, a spontaneous trip to London, and I’m closing the year in Dublin and Amsterdam! It’s no secret that I’ve battled anxiety most of my life, but travel was always an area that got hit a little harder than others. I’d work myself up over missing my flight, delays, mechanical malfunctions mid-air, stop and frisk by TSA, etc.
I spend time telling myself that the statistical likelihood of these things happening is insanely low, it doesn’t keep my brain from obsessing over it which in turn had stopped me from frequent travel before. While I can’t say that I’m cured of my travel anxieties, things are a lot more manageable now. Weirdly, I have to thank having to travel so much for my job! I signed up for CLEAR, which made getting through TSA a breeze! I make sure to have ample time to get to the airport and my boarding gate. Anything else is out of my hands. I am still irritable, slightly on edge, and occasionally snappy but it’s a work in progress.